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Student service a part of winter break

  • Student service
    Student service  Paige Roseman was one of the members of a previous W&M Orphanage Outreach team. Another OO team will serve in the Dominican Republic this year over winter break.  Photo courtesy of Lily Rubino '12
  • Orphanage outreach
    Orphanage outreach  A team of 15 students will spend one week in January working with the Orphanage Outreach non-profit organizations, which partners with Hogar La Esperanza De Un Nino (Hope of a Child Orphanage) in Monte Crisit, Dominican Republic.  Photo courtesy of Lily Rubino '12
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Though the College’s students may be on winter break, there will be no lull in William & Mary’s service efforts.

Dozens of William & Mary students will be participating in five international alternative breaks during January, and others will use Community Engagement Grants to conduct service projects in locations ranging from Virginia to Bangladesh.

“Winter break is relatively long, and allows for students to travel further, stay longer, and become more deeply engaged in social issues without distractions of midterms or classes,” said Melody Porter, associate director of the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship. “They are able to return to campus with a storehouse of knowledge and a toolkit of experiences that equip them to serve as advocates on the issue and engage in related projects locally.  We see it as a prime opportunity for students to grow as active citizens through direct service.”

William & Mary’s Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship awarded six students Community Engagement Grants for winter break for the first time this year. According to the OCES website, the grants are provided “to support students' involvement in community engagement over the summer and winter breaks.” Students who apply for the grants create their own service projects, usually in conjunction with an existing service or non-profit agency.

Of the seven students who received the inaugural winter grants, three will work together in New Orleans. One will conduct environmental education in Virginia; one will work with homeless communities in Los Angeles. The final student will intern with Grameen Bank, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning bank that provides credit to the impoverished people of Bangladesh.

The five William & Mary service trips that will take place over winter break include: William & Mary Medical Relief (Nicaragua), AIDSTanzania, Orphanage Outreach (Dominican Republic), W&M Students for Belize Education and Bridges to Community (Nicaragua), which is a new trip.

Lily Rubino ’12, a double major in anthropology and environmental science, is co-leading the W&M Orphanage Outreach team with James O'Leary. The team of 15 students will spend one week in January working with the Orphanage Outreach non-profit organizations, which partners with Hogar La Esperanza De Un Nino (Hope of a Child Orphanage) in Monte Cristi.

“A typical day consists of waking up early to hang out with the kids at the orphanage who are usually awake by 7,” said Rubino in an e-mail. “We read with them, play sports (baseball is THE sport in the DR), color, and play games. Mid-morning we walk over to a local public school where we teach English to a class of anywhere from 15-35 children.”

The William & Mary students will work together to develop creative lesson plans to teach common English words and phrases.

“The children love learning songs such as ‘Head, shoulders, knees and toes’ and participating in fun activities such as slap board and matching games,” Rubino said.

In addition to teaching, the William & Mary students will also do some learning of their own. At the end of each day, they will receive a presentation by the staff of the non-profit on topics such as the history of the country.

“One week may seem like a short time, but it is a small segment of a larger whole that cannot function without its constituent parts,” she said. “My goals as a member of Orphanage Outreach are many. One is to become part of this greater community of OO volunteers whose collective efforts have created more opportunities for the youth of Monte Cristi and have given them more choices on which they themselves can decide to act. Another goal is to be a friend and mentor to children who either do not have parents or whose families are unable to support them. There is so much to be gained from positive human to human contact.”

“Serving with Orphanage Outreach is truly a service-learning experience,” said Rubino.

For more information on service opportunities at William & Mary and for ways to contribute to them, visit the OCES website.